Department of Agriculture
Dan Glickman, Secretary
The mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to ensure the well-being of Americans -- with special emphasis
on people engaged in commercial agriculture and sensible management of natural resources; families needing nutritional
services; consumers dependent on a safe, affordable food supply; and residents of depressed rural areas.
Within its new structure, the Department continues to operate over 200 programs organized into seven mission areas:
- farm and foreign agricultural services;
- rural development;
- food, nutrition, and consumer services;
- natural resources and environment;
- food safety;
- research, education, and economics; and
- marketing and regulatory programs.
Summary Budget Information
|FY 1993 (Actual) || FY 1996 (Budgeted) |
|Budget || Staff ||Budget || Staff|
| $67.857 billion || 114,420 ||$54.064 billion ||105,452|
USDA, a leader in streamlining the federal government, has undertaken the most massive restructuring in its 134-year
history. USDA's dramatic reinvention is helping to make government work better but cost less.
At headquarters and at field locations throughout the country, we are providing better service to our customers -- to the
farmers who depend on us for program information; to the families who visit our national forests; to the rural Americans
who look to us for help with their housing, their water systems, and even for links to advanced technologies such as the
As part of this Administration's commitment to providing better customer service, we have reorganized USDA around the
seven mission areas listed above. The number of USDA agencies has been reduced from 43 to 30. And we have consolidated our
field operations into multi-agency service centers.
These service centers house several USDA agencies under one roof, providing one-stop shopping. Instead of having to
travel to many different sites for help, farmers can now go to one centrally located office, making it more convenient
for people to participate in USDA farm, rural development, and conservation programs. And if people have a question about
farm programs, or rural development, or soil conservation, they call one number, not three different numbers. They talk
to one USDA employee, not three or more. We've even changed the way we answer the phone. For example, Susan Stevick of the
USDA Service Center in Lyndon, Kansas, answers the phone, "Hello. This is the Osage County Department of Agriculture,"
and not "the Farm Service Agency," or "the Natural Resources Conservation Agency." She knows that most callers don't care
which agency they reach, but they do want USDA to answer their questions and provide the services they need.
In the field and in Washington, that's what we're doing -- and we're doing it better and at a lower cost to taxpayers.
Already, in our creation of one-stop service centers, we have closed or collocated 538 offices in 224 counties.
We have reduced our staff by nearly 10,000 people in the last three years -- ahead of schedule. And the savings resulting
from these reductions are ahead of schedule, too -- already more than $900 million. We expect to save about $4.1 billion
between 1993 and 1999 as a result of streamlining the Department.
Our field office employees serve America on the front lines. Their positive attitudes about their jobs, about the
federal government, and about serving America are contagious. Here are a few examples of USDA individuals and offices that
are making government work better and cost less:
Reinventing government is not easy. It involves people. It takes time. But the end result is worthwhile a more
responsive, more flexible, and less bureaucratic USDA that better serves the American people. Our top priority is, and
will continue to be, customer service. USDA employees are on the front lines where they can deliver information, answer
questions, and provide needed services to the American people.
- A group of employees from the National Finance Center has been nominated for a government computer award for
excellence. Their new system replaces voluminous paper and microfiche reports and greatly improves productivity. Instead
of spending 400 hours to prepare a report, employees now spend 11 hours. First year savings are expected to exceed
- The School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children is improving the health of our nation's 50 million school children.
Requiring the nation's 94,000 schools to serve meals meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans will improve long-term
health and life expectancy.
- The Economic Research Service (ERS) is 25 percent smaller now than in 1993 and is already working better. The service
is using the Internet to make it easier for the public to get information. ERS employees set up an information center to
help customers get ERS products and services. And they have a new phone line to respond to questions.
- Over 3.5 million Americans in 13 states now receive food stamp benefits through electronic benefits transfer (EBT)
cards, which enable them to access their benefits directly at the supermarket cash register, in the same way many
Americans already use automated teller machine cards. EBT technology reduces administrative costs to states and eases
the administrative burden on retailers who redeem food stamps.
- USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service has dramatically overhauled and reinvented the entire meat and poultry
inspection system. Three years of Administration efforts recently culminated in a sweeping reform of federal food safety
rules that will use hard science to prevent and reduce contamination of meat and poultry. This is part of a comprehensive
effort to protect consumers from food-borne illnesses, which cost $1 billion to $4 billion each year in lost prodictivity
and medical costs.
- The USDA AmeriCorps national service program has enabled about 2,000 Americans to help pay for their postsecondary
educations by performing vital services fighting hunger, protecting the environment, and rebuilding rural communities.
In its first year of operation, the services provided by the program helped 828,000 citizens and improved 234,000 acres
of land. Because this program empowered local communities to help solve their own problems, less than 2 percent of its
entire budget went to Washington-based administrative overhead.
- The Department is pioneering new uses of technology to boost the economy and aid communities. USDA has improved
access to information and education to help producers and others involved in the agricultural economy make sound choices
and decisions in an increasingly risky business. Through use of the Internet and other information technology, USDA
provides quick access to important economic information. Also, since 1993, USDA has provided grants totaling $27.5
million to rural projects in 39 states to help rural schools, libraries, and medical facilities acquire advanced
- Major changes have been initiated in administrative processes and systems. USDA has been a leader in initiating
Electronic Commerce (a procurement system) and Employee Express (a personnel system). One business process reengineering
project on credit card reform is expected to improve service and has the potential to realize up to $45 million in
administrative efficiencies and cost avoidances by the year 2000.
- The Agricultural Marketing Service completed a review of all its regulations. As a result, 2,000 pages will be
removed from the Code of Federal Regulations during the next two years. Net annual savings will amount to $200,000.